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izzle1989

Breath support and the hissing exercises. Any thoughts???

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Do the hissing exercises really help us learn to control the breath flow with our lower torso? Do breathing exercises for exhalation really help singing? My answer to these questions are yes and no.

The hissing exercise is really suppose to be used to feel what good singing should feel like with the lower body, but it is nowhere close to replacing a good vocal exercise. When doing these hissing exercises pay special attention to the amount of resistance you are providing with the tongue/teeth because this will make or break you.

If you use less resistance with the tongue/teeth then the air will escape more rapidly and you will run out of breath faster. I can usually do this type of hiss for about 35-40 seconds.

If you use a great deal of resistance then you will be able to hold on to that breath a lot longer and it will be very steady. I can usually sustain this type of hissing for about 70-90 seconds. I actually surprise myself all the time with the duration I can do this.

Now the key point is the resistance that is being provided. Have you ever tried to exhale this long without adding some sort of resistance???... It is impossible to exhale this long without adding resistance with you lips, teeth, or tongue. If resistance is added without the methods mentioned above it is from the closing of the throat to try to hold back the air.

What this tells me is that we cannot truly hold back the air with our core. All we can do is try not to let the weight of our rib cage and abdomen force the air out. Technically this is not holding back the air with our midsection, but preventing our body from collapsing and forcing air out.

The resistance is provided at the level of the larynx with tightly sealed vocal folds. I know many of you are going to say the vocal folds don't resist the air the body does, but thinking about this is what made me reconsider my breathing exercise dominant vocal routine.

All we can do is try to prevent the air from being forced out by the weight of the rib cage and tension of the abdomen. When someone has the idea of staying expanded with the midsection, but are still having breath control issues I guarantee that the vocal folds are not approximating efficiently. When another person has great closure to the point that it sounds squeezed/pressed I guarantee that they are letting the body collapse at the onset which will cause to much breath pressure to be pushed through the folds and cause the throat to close in an attempt to control the air flow.

I know this is a long post, but these are things that should be considered.

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I agree with you.

I've tried a variation. It may be harmful so I'm not a 100% on it, it may bring in some bad habits of breathyness.

I simply took the same approach of the hiss technique but stuck out my tongue and tried to feel pressure in my lower sternum. The air is controlled by the folds, but it is very breathy. I can exhale to around 40-60 seconds with it.

Not sure if it will help at all with breathing.

May thing that is helping me is simply feeling a sense of resistance under my ribs and thinking to my self that I am holding my breath as I sing. Helps a bunch! The holding back of the breath helps keep the resonance on my soft palate also.

Weird thing is I simply don't think of anything when I do the hiss exercise, if I consciously think of holding this, doing this, oh wait I'm not... It throws me off and I constrict. Too me, if I relax and don't even feel like I'm supporting I go much further.

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I agree with you.

I've tried a variation. It may be harmful so I'm not a 100% on it, it may bring in some bad habits of breathyness.

I simply took the same approach of the hiss technique but stuck out my tongue and tried to feel pressure in my lower sternum. The air is controlled by the folds, but it is very breathy. I can exhale to around 40-60 seconds with it.

Not sure if it will help at all with breathing.

May thing that is helping me is simply feeling a sense of resistance under my ribs and thinking to my self that I am holding my breath as I sing. Helps a bunch! The holding back of the breath helps keep the resonance on my soft palate also.

Weird thing is I simply don't think of anything when I do the hiss exercise, if I consciously think of holding this, doing this, oh wait I'm not... It throws me off and I constrict. "Too me, if I relax and don't even feel like I'm supporting I go much further".

That last sentence is king. When we sing we feel the support as a result of proper fold closure not the other way around.

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Dunno, pretty sure I suspend the breath using these muscles. Its the same I do to get rid of hiccups lol, works everytime. And its a very strong and clear sensation, its as if you are still inhaling, but no air flows.

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Dunno, pretty sure I suspend the breath using these muscles. Its the same I do to get rid of hiccups lol, works everytime. And its a very strong and clear sensation, its as if you are still inhaling, but no air flows.

I'm not arguing against the suspension of air, but what I am saying is we cannot directly control the exit of air only the vocal folds can do that.

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Not sure I follow izz.

Lets say that you want to release a constant flow of air, but vey slowly. Like just feeling the heat on the palm of your hand. It can be done using the larynx to control, or the same suspension idea.

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Not sure I follow izz.

Lets say that you want to release a constant flow of air, but vey slowly. Like just feeling the heat on the palm of your hand. It can be done using the larynx to control, or the same suspension idea.

That is true, but this exhale will not last nearly as long as the resisted hiss.

This is a simple question to ask are the vocal folds vibrating efficiently because the support is correct or is the support correct because the vocal folds are vibrating efficiently???

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I agree with both of you...it's kind of like, what's the point, is this really the key that will unlock my singing potential? I honestly don't do any breathing-specific exercises besides going for a daily jog and focusing on breathing deep and low during that. And ever since I learned diaphragmatic breathing it seemed to stick with me and become the way I breathe 24/7. I just think of support as pushing down and out and I can do it when I put some mental focus on it. That pretty much covers my entire learning curve regarding breathing for singing. My technique is coming along great, and I didn't spend months on "sss" exercises.

Another thing to think about, what about our normal vocal exercises? How are those not breathing exercises too? If you just apply good breathing technique to them, wouldn't you end up training the strength and coordination of your respiration as much as your technique up in the vocal tract? I think so.

My whole point for making this post is breathing correctly means nothing if the vocal folds are not closing efficiently.

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Izz, with this I agree completely. But the control can be completely removed from the larynx. All my release exercises right now end at about the same duration, between 20 and 30 seconds, depending on the underlying pressure and on the dinamic of the release.

The exercises ends when I feel the muscles are failing and I need to exhale the remaining air.,

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And my point is. The vocal aparatus should never be involved in breathing neither folds nor chords. You should never hold back air with your vocal chords. Full stop.

At least when singing, it is ok to do so if you are a wheight lifter, but in singing no.

The vocal chords are secondary when it comes to breathing. You should always strive for an completely open trought, in singing the G sound is an exceptiom and should be held as light as possible. To hold the air in with varying degrees of chord closure is bullshit. Keep the trought fully open on an open Ah and you will see how much support you actually have.

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Izz, with this I agree completely. But the control can be completely removed from the larynx. All my release exercises right now end at about the same duration, between 20 and 30 seconds, depending on the underlying pressure and on the dinamic of the release.

The exercises ends when I feel the muscles are failing and I need to exhale the remaining air.,

I understand what your are saying now, but what I am expressing is that they are interrelated and whose to say that the support doesn't adjust for the vocal folds instead of the other way around.

I feel that is the breath is relaxed and low then the thought of making sound is the controller of how much I support not the support controlling how much sound I make. Many people make the mistake of trying to lock the breath mechanism in place with can cause more harm than benefits.

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And my point is. The vocal aparatus should never be involved in breathing neither folds nor chords. You should never hold back air with your vocal chords. Full stop.

At least when singing, it is ok to do so if you are a wheight lifter, but in singing no.

The vocal chords are secondary when it comes to breathing. You should always strive for an completely open trought, in singing the G sound is an exceptiom and should be held as light as possible. To hold the air in with varying degrees of chord closure is bullshit. Keep the trought fully open on an open Ah and you will see how much support you actually have.

First thing first a chord is not part of the human anatomy(Fold or Cord) not chord. The vocal folds directly control the outflow of air. If we singing with a breathy tone the vocal folds are not approximating correctly and are letting excess air escape. When we make a clean crisp tone the vocal folds approximate at greater levels and vibrate on a smaller stream of air because they are vibrating efficiently which is indirectly holding back the air flow before they are blown apart over and over again.

To teach students that the vocal folds can't hold back air is okay for beginners, but to think this for you entire life is not good business. The vocal folds directly control the air flow as long as the breath is low and relaxed upon the inhale.

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And my point is. The vocal aparatus should never be involved in breathing neither folds nor chords. You should never hold back air with your vocal chords. Full stop.

At least when singing, it is ok to do so if you are a wheight lifter, but in singing no.

The vocal chords are secondary when it comes to breathing. You should always strive for an completely open trought, in singing the G sound is an exceptiom and should be held as light as possible. To hold the air in with varying degrees of chord closure is bullshit. Keep the trought fully open on an open Ah and you will see how much support you actually have.

It is impossible to make sound with the glottis open. The vocal folds close off the airway in a healthy way. We run into trouble when the vocal folds are not approximating correctly, so our body calls for assistance from the constrictor muscles.

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Hi, all. Interesting discussion.

IMO, the purpose of the sustained Hiss exercise is not to provide resistance at the level of the mouth, tongue or lips...those are secondary. Rather, the purpose is to use _consistency_ and duration of the slow, gentle hiss as a way of training the exhalation and inhalation muscles to coordinate in the management of the exhale.

When I do the hiss, the sensation of restriction in the mouth is minimal, just enough to make the softest hiss I can. This cannot be heard in a quiet room more than 3-4 feet from me. At this volume level, I can hear the effect on hiss consistency produced by my own heart beating. The sense of breath suspension (feeling of inhaling while actually exhaling, or of the 'fogging glasses with warm, moist breath' is accentuated.

The hiss exercise is not an end in itself. It is stepping stone to a soft, supported tone. The very next step, at the teacher's discretion, would be to convert the unvoiced S to a voiced Z at the same dynamic level... and then on to all the semi-occluded consonants once the basic feelings have been learned and technique incorporated.

I hope this is helpful.

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Oh yes Izz, they are parts of the same. Without one, the other does not work. Its perfectly possible to support more than necessary and not provide enough air pressure to the larynx too. Or provide the pressure and produce an airy emission wasting all the pressure.

Even these exercises for control, if others are not done to connect it to the voice, at best what we can get is a prize for the best S eveer heard hehe.

And yes, Im positive that support and control can be developed using voiced exercises.

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Oh yes Izz, they are parts of the same. Without one, the other does not work. Its perfectly possible to support more than necessary and not provide enough air pressure to the larynx too. Or provide the pressure and produce an airy emission wasting all the pressure.

Even these exercises for control, if others are not done to connect it to the voice, at best what we can get is a prize for the best S eveer heard hehe.

And yes, Im positive that support and control can be developed using voiced exercises.

Exactly because they are interrelated and you cannot simply replace one with the other. At the end of the day our focus should be on the quality of sound. As we all know the vocal folds will use the right amount of air as long as we focus on having a sound that is neither breathy of squeezed.

I feel that the feeling of support is just an effect of initiating the sound correctly at the level of the larynx. We do not or should not directly try to add more or less air we should just supply the folds with the precise amount of air they need to vibrate at the certain pitch or dynamic level that we are going for.

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Could you describe this scenario more? I'm trying to think of when something like this would occur. I can only see this happening if someone gets rigid and locked in the support, which to me isn't supporting more than necessary, but rather supporting inefficiently -- the energy is just distributed improperly.

~~Dante~~

Exactly! How can you support a note before you know what the note is going to be or the dynamic level??? The vocal folds initiate the type of support that is needed.

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Ok, I want to make sure I'm understanding you correctly. If you are referring to damming the air with the vocal cords, not allowing any air at all to come through, then I agree with you. I don't think anyone here is suggesting to do that. But at the same time, the cords do have to resist the airflow very strongly, so that there is not breath leakage in the sound, especially as one tries to increase the air pressure. Would you not agree with this point?

~~Dante~~

Of course the cords is involved in singing and you have to get a closure to not flip into falsetto and unhealthy singing

using just air. But my point was that most singer use to much of the cords to hold back air when it mostly comes down to holding back your air in your lungs. To do this you need master suport or the appogio. Singing needs a firm control of the cords but breathing is a different matter. To just use your abdominal muscles and the diafragm is a much better way to start if you want to hold in air. The cords is the source of sound but think of it more like an electrical guitar. The notes are all there and also the upper harmonics. To make an electric guitar sound you need amplification. When singing this comes mainly from ultra strong suport.

My suggestion on singing ah with wide open cords had nothing to do with producing perfect sound and should never be attemped in fortissimo. It was just a hint on how much you should use the suport rather than cords to control air.

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Of course the cords is involved in singing and you have to get a closure to not flip into falsetto and unhealthy singing

using just air. But my point was that most singer use to much of the cords to hold back air when it mostly comes down to holding back your air in your lungs. To do this you need master suport or the appogio. Singing needs a firm control of the cords but breathing is a different matter. To just use your abdominal muscles and the diafragm is a much better way to start if you want to hold in air. The cords is the source of sound but think of it more like an electrical guitar. The notes are all there and also the upper harmonics. To make an electric guitar sound you need amplification. When singing this comes mainly from ultra strong suport.

My suggestion on singing ah with wide open cords had nothing to do with producing perfect sound and should never be attemped in fortissimo. It was just a hint on how much you should use the suport rather than cords to control air.

I think you may need to rethink this. The vocal folds and the air support system are so intimately related that you can't just choose to support more or choose to get better closure. They go hand in hand.

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I used to think that way but I do not anymore. Every part of singing could be separated when practicing and in deed I think they should be at least at some point. It is not beginner stuff but trust me on this. All parts need to be separated at some point. The same could be said of lowering your larynx or singing in the mask. Singing in the mask is an good example. To sing in the mask basically means to have a good control of the soft palate.

It means that you can shut this of when ever you want. To isolate this you have to sing through your nose. This is not good generally speaking. You need to sing mms, ngs while a lot of the air goes through your nose preferably with your tongue out like a ball. This is not how you sing a song but it creates an awareness about the soft soft palate. In my opinion, just like using to much cord to control breath, the soft palate needs to stay open and flexible at times even if we do not sing trough the nose all of the time.

The thing that restricts singers most in my opinion is using to much cord in breath control and closing of the soft palate more than necessary.

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To go back to the hisssss. You should absolutely involve cords but if you strive for 60 seconds or so you can not just close of the air in your throught. You can do this by cords but it will mainly create tension. The hisss exercise is just a breathing exercise and as such you should use your support. All use of cords is truly harmful and will not help you with a proper warm-up.

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Anders what you are writing is very confusing and the facts that your are stating are very very unclear. Can you post a clip to back up what you are saying because right now you are saying things to contradict yourself.

Singing through your nose does not make you aware of your soft palate it does the complete opposite. I could see if you were saying that you need to know the feeling of going from nasal to a healthy tone.

How long have you been studying voice?

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My own short contribution to this would be to practice proper posture, anywhere, anytime.

Chest up, lower back curved neither backwards, nor balled up forwards (like when you're sitting hunched on a chair). When singing with good posture, the part of my body that seems most compressed and slightly more protruding than the rest, is betwenn the solar plexus and the belly button, but not below it. If my body below the belly button is expanded, that means my abs aren't working actively enough to compress the torso.

I also like doing staccato exercises on vowels (mostly open), by prefacing each vowel with a very quick inhalation: /a/ - quick inhale - /a/ - quick inhale - /a/ - quick inhale - /a/ and so forth, trying to sound resonant even for the short duration of each tone. I find it activates my support muscles much more.

I take working on support very seriously. It can help save your voice even if you're doing everything else wrong. And I take the "anywhere, anytime" practice very seriously too. Singing is more about getting rid of improper physical habits than it is about learning proper ones. (Maybe they're one and the same.) And you don't get rid of a bad habit in 1 hour/day singing sessions. When I think of this I always remember that great sequence in Million Dollar Baby, where Hilary Swank's character would practice her legwork while moving among customers and serving them at the cafe where she worked.

It's really like that.

By the way, Anders, what benefits do you think *not* closing the soft palate more carries for the singer?

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Humm if I hold back too much, I prevent enough pressure to be provided, too little and start to feel my larynx acting to keep it in place.

There is another scenario, that is preparing a huge compression and never using it, which makes the phrase sound unnatural. Ill send samples.

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Hope it's OK if I chip in with something that SLS uses to address 'support'. Not to take anything away from other techniques, I just think this is a really neat way that SLS deals with it.

We all know that support, breathing, etc, is critical for singing. No-one in their right mind would argue otherwise. However, it is but one part of a complex system. I'd liken it to a car - no-one would argue that the cylinders in the engine are of utmost importance for the car to work properly... but you don't need to understand how they work or interfere with the way they work for you to be able to drive the car.

It's an imperfect analogy, but the point I'm trying to make is that it is critical but secondary to the act of singing itself. SLS ties up the right amount of support with the exercise itself, so that the student is thinking about the outcome of correct support rather than support itself. E.g. Instead of 'must support to get the right sound', it becomes 'get the right sound' with an appropriate exercise, and the appropriate support is already there. This does require the skill of a teacher to pick the right exercise and help the student recognise that it's working, but it works wonders (IMO) by tying up a critical (but secondary) factor into the actual outcome we're trying to achieve in a measureable way... which (to my mind) makes it far easier and more instinctual to just get down to singing.

I hope that makes sense!

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